“I want to be vegan but it’s too expensive.”
Oh, but it is totally affordable to eat plants! Vegan food may have the perception of being expensive, but I attribute this to prices at specialty restaurants, and the notion that only wealthy and privileged people are vegan. Thank goodness that isn’t the case, because I would have a hard time.
Abstaining from meat and other animal products has been around for ages. Traditionally poor people could not afford animal products, and so relied on plant-based foods to get their nutrients. One of my favorite vegan foods, tempeh, comes from Indonesia, where it was known as the “poor man’s meat.” In the US, beans and lentils have played that role for generations. Think about your favorite ethnic cuisine, and I can bet you it has humble beginnings. For example, humble vegetables like cabbage, collard greens, green beans, dandelions, beets, and sweet potatoes/yams are at the core of black American soul food. These foods are cheap, nutritious, delicious, and very versatile!
Saving money is something that I love to do. Eating yummy nourishing food is another thing I adore. Here are my tips for saving money while eating your healthy vegan diet:
1. Shop at the farmer’s market! You can really get a lot of fresh produce for your money when you buy straight from the farmers. Not only does your dollar stretch further, but farmer’s market food tends to be fresher and higher in nutrients since the time from field to market is much shorter.
2. Organic vs. Conventional, just do what you can. The most important thing is that you are eating mostly fresh fruit and vegetables. Organic produce is great, but if you cannot afford it don’t let that keep you from enjoying conventional produce. If you are set on eating organic, shop at the farmer’s market and ask farmers about their pesticide and fertilizer habits. Many farmers grow under organic standards, but cannot afford the expensive USDA certification.
3. Superfoods and specialty foods are great, but they aren’t necessary to maintain a healthy vegan diet…unless of course it’s raw chocolate 🙂
4. Stick to the humble foods like legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), cruciferous vegetables, greens, sweet potatoes, etc… These foods are highly nutritious, and can be used in a number of ways. Humble doesn’t have to mean boring. Have fun with how you prepare dishes using these ingredients. I recommend splurging on spices (or buying them at an ethnic market for less money), condiments (like miso, harissa, and tahini), and oils (my favorite is pumpkin seed oil). Spices, condiments, and oils will add flavor and depth to dishes, and increase the nutrient levels.
5. Check out my book 5 Ingredient Vegan for some simple and inexpensive vegan recipes. Specialty-ish ingredients like chia seeds and tempeh can be found for cheap at Trader Joe’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, and online!
6. Shop the bulk section at Whole Foods and health food stores. Buy dried beans, grains, lentils, nuts, seeds, and even spices to save money. Costco and Sam’s Club are also great places to find inexpensive nuts, sweeteners, non-dairy milk, salad greens, fresh fruit, and frozen vegetables and fruit.
These are truly my go-to money saving tricks! If you’ve been thinking about adopting a vegan diet, but are unsure of how to make it work on a budget, trust me—You can do it!!
Do you have any tips for saving money on a healthy vegan/plant-based diet? I would love to hear what works for you.
As you’ll see, I have a new fancy blog commenting system set up with Disqus. My WordPress comments were riddled with spam, so now I can get to your lovely comments without having to struggle through spam for hours. So please put my Disqus to work, and share your tips and thoughts with me! xoxo